Over the past two years I’ve reported stories about unpaid interns and their lawsuits. Run a search here on “unpaid interns” and you’ll get stories like this one under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
At least one of those stories commented on the fear many interns had of being blacklisted if they complained or sued.
But here’s a victory for unpaid interns, as reported in the October 24 New York Times:
NBCUniversal will pay $6.4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by unpaid interns who worked on “Saturday Night Live” and other shows who claim they are owed wages, according to court documents. The interns said NBCUniversal wrongly classified them as nonemployees in an effort to avoid labor laws. NBCUniversal said in court documents that though it was settling the suit, it did not admit any wrongdoing. The average amount that class-action members of the suit will receive is $505, although the main plaintiffs will receive more. The settlement still is subject to approval by a judge.
A few comments: Of course NBC Universal “did not admit any wrongdoing.” Who cares? They’re paying for their oh-we-didn’t-do-anything-wrong. If the interns really needed NBCUniversal to admit wrong, they wouldn’t have settled − or wouldn’t have settled for this amount.
And although the Times didn’t mention the law firm that handled this case (and has handled at least one other unpaid intern case), it is Outten & Golden, a highly respected law firm specializing in employment cases.